A Tanabata Festival will be held in Boyle Heights on Friday, July 13, from 3 to 8 p.m. at the Boyle Heights Farmers’ Market in Mariachi Plaza, First Street and Boyle Avenue.

The festival is a joint collaboration between the Boyle Heights Historical Society and Little Tokyo Historical Society, both non-profit community organizations.

The purpose of the Tanabata event is to educate the farmers’ market visitors about the significant Japanese American residential, business, and religious presence in Boyle Heights many years ago. A few of these longtime Japanese American institutions still remain, including Keiro Retirement Home on Boyle Avenue. Neighborhood residents may be aware of the physical presence of these establishments, but do not know the history.

Tanabata celebrates the meeting of Orihime (the weaving princess) and Hikoboshi (cow herder star). According to legend, the Milky Way separates the two and they are allowed to meet only once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh month. This story is commemorated with festivals observed throughout Japan in July and in Little Tokyo in mid-August.

The event will include fun activities such as origami paper folding, exhibits of historical photos, haiku poetry writing, Tanabata kazari decoration making, and writing of Tanabata wishes on tanzaku notes.

Lively entertainment will include children’s storytelling of the Tanabata star festival, DJ music, spirited ondo folk dancing, a Japanese mariachi, and taiko drumming.

For information, contact Mike Okamoto at michael.okamura@sbcglobal.net or Malissa Strong at (323) 240-1888 or malissastrong@yahoo.com.

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